Caper is a premium bachelorette planning service, co-founded by Leah Shisha and Isha Vij (both Stern '16). Leah and Isha writes about founding the company that is customized to suit the personality of the bride — a little bit sassy, a little bit classy, and a whole lot of fun! The team was selected into the first cohort of Ignite Fellowship program earlier this year.
We founded Caper in Fall 2015, after having generating strong momentum and making it to the semi-finals in the NYU $200K Entrepreneurs Challenge. The idea was really inspired by our passion for bringing the people closest to us together to celebrate exciting moments in our lives. In our respective social circles, we are always the ones planning dinner parties, birthdays, cocktail parties, etc.—you name it, we’ve planned it before! We’re at a time in our life where we are going to a lot of weddings, and as a result have been planning a lot of bachelorette parties. One day we were discussing how much of a drag they are to plan—there are so many opinions involved, varying budgets, and lots of pressure to make it a killer event. Then we started to research the bachelorette market and we discovered that women are getting married later and as a result have more discretionary income to spend on these types of events, have less time to plan them, and they also want more of a girls weekend and less of the traditional bachelorette party. They’re over the hot pink and black theme, tired of phallic symbols all over the party décor, and are looking for something more exciting than a drunk night out at a cheesy bar. That’s where Caper comes in—we create and curate truly unique activities and itineraries that match the personality of the bride.
We also take the stress of planning out of the hands of the bridesmaids. This may sound like something trivial, but planning the average bachelorette party requires hours of Google, Etsy, and Pinterest surfing. It also requires making reservations and negotiating prices and packages. And lastly, they have to deal with anything that goes wrong along the way. Just this past weekend, we planned a killer bachelorette party in New Orleans.
We booked the group on a Cajun swamp tour – it’s one of the most fun activities down there and people rarely do it! The day before they flew to New Orleans we got a call that the swamp tour company made a mistake and double booked the boats. We were told they couldn’t fit the girls onto a tour that day. We spent an entire 24 hours going back and forth with the company until we finally got them on a tour. Now, the girls had no idea this happened. It was a seamless weekend for them and their most favorite part of the weekend was the swamp tour! We alleviate all of this stress, find truly unique (and sometimes crazy!) activities, and actually make the experience fun and exciting for those planning.
We decided to apply to Ignite Fellowship with the encouragement of several of the staff members at the NYU Entrepreneurial Institute. We started coming to the Leslie eLab late last year, while we were first year MBA students working on a startup idea around small-scale events for the $200K Challenge. Several folks took immediate interest in the idea and were eager to help. In particular, Jerry Hao, Associate, NYU Innovation Venture Fund, encouraged us to look into applying to the Ignite Fellowship so that we would get the resources we needed to really help bring our idea to life.
Since being selected as Ignite Fellows, we have made so much progress on our startup. It developed from a small-scale events business to expanding in a niche market. Today, Caper is a one-stop-shop for groups looking for a unique bachelorette and birthday party experience in New York City.
The Fellowship helped us find focus in our idea and cater to a high-potential market for small-scale events. They helped us figure out which vendors to work with, how to reach out to them, and brainstormed growth ideas that we couldn't have thought of alone. Through the Ignite program, one of the biggest lessons learned was the importance of knowing your customer on a granular level. This involves a ton of research, client interviews, and testing.
The Leslie eLab is a hub of knowledge and just sitting in there you’ll absorb so much! There are several resources that we wish we knew about earlier. We’ve received a ton of guidance around if, how, and when to raise money, personal coaching, and legal advice.
One big piece of advice for budding NYU entrepreneurs would be to connect with other women who own businesses-- it doesn’t even have to be in your own industry. We’ve found so much support for other women who are looking to help out.
Our current focus is on user acquisition -- not an easy feat for a bootstrapped business! We’re learning a lot along the way about how to promote our brand in a way that is scalable. Learn more about our startup here http://www.caperco.com.